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Walker to deliver 7th state of the state address

Gov. Scott Walker

Andrea Anderson and Laurel White

Wisconsin Public Radio

Gov. Scott Walker is set to deliver his seventh annual State of the State address this afternoon.

Walker will talk about the state’s economy, budget, finances and 2017 initiatives, according to his website, walker.wi.gov.

The governor has traditionally used his budget address as a vehicle to convey new proposals and policies, rather than the State of the State.

"A lot of his State of the State (addresses) are less rattling off policy ideas, as compared to other governors or certainly presidents when they do the State of the Union," said Mike Wagner, professor of communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "When he does talk about what’s to come, it’s not always with a great deal of specifics."

In 2011, Walker did not mention the polarizing reforms included in Act 10 in his State of the State address, which was given just days before the legislation was introduced. 

Last year, Walker’s speech focused on accomplishments and existing policies rather than new initiatives.

Wagner said he expects a similar approach this year, with the governor focusing on "things that mark the state’s fiscal house being in order."

That may include the state's unemployment rate and the UW System's multi-year tuition freeze, Wagner said.

Wagner also said the governor may touch on things that are "fairly popular or broadly bipartisan," including efforts to combat the state's opioid epidemic.

The governor has also spoken extensively in recent weeks about prioritizing worker training in Wisconsin, which was a major talking point in his 2016 State of the State. Just last week, he said his 2017-19 budget proposal will include plans to help former inmates, veterans and people with disabilities enter the workforce.

The governor's budget address is expected in mid-February. The 2017-19 budget is already causing internal strife between Republicans as the state looks to fill a nearly $1 billion shortfall in the state transportation budget, which includes no new taxes or fees.

Walker’s address will be given to the largest GOP majorities in the state Senate and state Assembly in decades, which will undoubtedly help the Republican governor move forward with his initiatives.

The State of the State will be given during a joint session of the state Legislature at 3 p.m. The annual address traditionally happens in the evening, however Walker will deliver the speech earlier in the day out of respect for President Barack Obama’s Farewell Address at 8 p.m. in Chicago.

The speech can be live-streamed on Public Television, wpt.org/watch/liveevent, and the Governor’s website. It can be heard live on WPR, http://www.wpr.org/listen-live?network=news.

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2017, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.

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